Are You Summer Cycle Ready?

At the tail end of winter I found myself standing in a Toronto bike shop tearing up after receiving tragic news. The Schwinn mountain bike I’d been zig-zagging around the city for the last three years was on her last legs. I was told it would be more cost effective to host a funeral for my dear two-wheeled friend than invest in a tune up. What made matters worse, the beauty was being laid to rest earlier than expected because of my own negligent behaviour. I’d been committing two heinous bike crimes: storing the bike on my balcony during the winter and skipping out on annual tune ups.

Grief stricken, I picked up a copy of The Complete Bike Owner’s Manual (DK Publishing, 2017), the ultimate bike bible for those looking to take care of their bike at home. My plan: spend the Spring shopping around to find a new bike that best suits my riding needs and educate myself on bike maintenance basics so she’s always in tip top shape.

The Complete Bike Owner’s Manual is a 224 page, visually in-depth manual that shows every aspect of bicycle repair and maintenance via easy to understand diagrams that showcase step-by-step instructions. Learn how to mend a tire puncture, build your own custom bike from scratch, or simply adjust your seat.

I found the first few pages to be extremely helpful as they outlined how to know which bike is best for you (a section dubbed Breaking Down Bike Anatomy), what questions to ask in the store (if you’re looking to reduce annual maintenance costs ask which bikes are more cost friendly), and what to look for when purchasing a new bike (woo me with sale signs).

After researching several bike brands I decided to stick to Schwinn. I wanted to pass on another mountain bike (wide tires and a heavy frame makes city cycling overly tiresome) and upgrade to a hybrid which offered the same seating position and gear performance but a lighter frame and two tires better suited for navigating Toronto’s backstreets. After chatting with friendly bike experts at Canadian Tire I was introduced to my new partner in crime, Schwinn’s Signature Men’s Vantage F1 Sport Hybrid (obviously it was love at first sight). The slick matte black bike features Fitness-tuned alloy frame, Speed Drive Train, Shimano Hydraulic disc brakes, carbon sport fork, and Schwinn’s own Smooth Ride Tech.

After peddling home I made a promise to treat my new bike with tender love and care all year round. I’m now storing the bike off my balcony, in a safe lock zone in the basement of my building so the elements don’t break her down. While I’m a newbie in the wrench and oil game The Complete Bike Owner’s Manual has given me the confidence to tackle whatever bad weather or calamitous potholes we may encounter along the way.

Here Are 5 Useful DIY Tune-up Tips From The Complete Bike Owner’s Manual

Essential Gear: if you’re buying your first bike be sure you’ve got all the necessities so you’re staying safe on the road in style. I suggest you have a good quality bike pump so your tires are always filled to the brim with air, a heavy duty Kryptonite bike lock to ward off thieves, LED lamps that alert traffic to your presence at night and fenders to keep your clothes and bike clean when it rains.

Cleaning Your Bike: easiest way to keep your bike looking good as new is to conduct regular cleanings to prevent a build-up of dirt that can wear out parts. Spray your bike all over with a cycle-specific detergent that will not damage the paintwork or breaks, and then rinse with water.

Lubricating Your Bike: just as important as cleaning, you should lubricate your bike immediately after every single bike wash. Lubricant and grease reduce friction on moving parts, so it is especially important to keep your chain lubricated. Lubricants also form a seal to protect bike components against water and corrosion.  

Protecting Your Frame: quality bikes are designed to cope with intensive use though you can extend your bike’s lifespan by protecting the frame from damage caused by debris, parts rubbing each other, or even wear from your own legs and feet. To ensure frame protection be sure to install down tube protectors, chainstay guard and cable spirals. 

Emergency Repairs: I’m happy to say I’ve never experienced an emergency on the road (knock on wood). While I call myself lucky, it’s inevitable that at some point you will need to make road-side repairs of some kind. If you learn basic repair skills such as how to fix a puncture you should have the knowledge you need to get home safely. 

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